Mayor Chris Beutler today said a proposed new ordinance on ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft would exempt them from the City's taxicab ordinance and resolve any questions over their legality in Lincoln. The ordinance will be introduced at the City Council meeting Monday, September 25, with a public hearing October 2 and a vote October 16. (The Council does not meet October 9.)
"City officials have closely monitored this growing industry over the last couple of years and have had no reports of problems," Mayor Beutler said. "Ridesharing is proving to be a safe, inexpensive and convenient option for users and a good income source for drivers."
In 2015, the State Legislature passed a bill providing for the legal operation of ridesharing services, called Transportation Network Companies (TNCs). A TNC is required to obtain a permit from the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) and pay an annual fee. Individual drivers do not have to receive PSC permission if they work for a permitted TNC. A TNC must have an anti-discrimination policy and a zero-tolerance policy for drug and alcohol use by drivers when providing service. The bill also gives the PSC the authority to conduct audits of TNC records.
The City Attorney's Office had determined that TNC drivers are considered taxicab drivers under the City Code, which makes them subject to additional regulatory requirements. Those include submitting to a written exam and having a medical exam upon hire and every three years.
"Instead of treating people who provide and use ridesharing as law breakers, we decided to step back, make sure our residents were protected and then take action." Beutler said. "We can't ignore the important role ridesharing plays in the economy. I am excited that we can move forward, amend the ordinance and give these services an official 'green light.'"
The Mayor thanked City Council member Leirion Gaylor Baird and former City Council member Trent Fellers for their work on the ordinance. "These two City leaders were advocates for the changes that make ridesharing available - and legal-for the public," Beutler said.